Fenland Council leader Melton admits to being horrified over collapse of affordable homes programme
COUNCIL leader Alan Melton admitted he was horrified to find out that an affordable homes programme in Fenland had collapsed.
He went into a cabinet meeting last Thursday armed with end of year performance figures which showed that from a target of 112 projected completions in 2011/12, there had been only 15 built.
He said the 87 per cent fall in affordable housing was “unacceptable” and he had called a top level meeting for mid July to work towards improving the number of new homes for Fenland. Developers and housing associations would be among those invited.
He said: “I was horrified when I read the annual report and that’s what spurred me into action.”
Cllr Melton said Roddons Housing Association, which had bought all of Fenland’s council houses, has “clearly not delivered and clearly not met the targets for new homes”.
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He said he also believed there were 500 empty houses in Fenland and he had asked officers for a report on these, too.
Cllr Melton said: “I am concerned that many of these – including some owned by Roddons and one owned by it in Chatteris which to my knowledge has been empty for six months – are not being let as quickly as they could be.
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“I have asked officers to look into planning rules and any other reason why these homes are not being let or sold so as to provide homes for families.”
He added: “We shall discuss radical steps and I am not saying at this stage that Fenland Council should start building council houses again but we should look at all the options with our partners in the development industry and with housing associations.”
He said housing associations and others had relied too much on section 106 agreements to provide affordable homes “but with housing in the doldrums now may be a time to look at other financial instruments to provide homes”.
Cllr Melton insisted that Fenland Council was a housing authority with an obligation to provide “a significant number of affordable housing units.
“At the moment that is not happening and I am not happy.”